Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Exit, Stage Left

I’m leaving Storm Mountain. 

People who know me only as Camp Ashley are going to find that hard to believe; people who knew me before are still a little surprised I landed here in the first place. Either way, I feel like I need to explain myself. 
This is probably my favorite Curly Girl Design.

I came to Storm on a full-time basis four years ago. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, nor would I have believed it only three months before that. The stack of coincidences that led to that decision were not to be ignored, however, and I was actually relieved when it came about – it was what needed to happen at that point in time and I was finally listening.

Four years. Four years of guests, kids, toilets, computer issues, hikes, campfires, and off-kilter schedules. Four years doesn’t seem like that long, but oh my goodness, has a lot happened. Those four years have seen thousands of guests and campers, a few dozen summer staff, my parents moving to Rapid City, and both of my siblings’ weddings. There have been road trips and adventures, storms and fires, and plenty of stories, good and bad.

For the most part, I have loved my time here. It stretched me as a human, gave me the opportunity to return to the Black Hills, and introduced me to a wide range of weird and wonderful people. On top of that, I've gotten to live in a place that others can only dream of. It's paradise.

As always, though, there is another side. It has also exhausted me in ways I never expected.

This past summer, I was given new outlets away from Storm and my eyes were opened to the things I was missing – opportunities to meet people on a social basis, chances to see and do things I can't otherwise, and space to grow in ways that weren’t related to the job or the church. Most of all, I realized that I had slowly but surely lost the privacy and time to myself that is required for me to be content in life.

I could relax and be myself without worry.

And oh my goodness, I didn’t have to put on the Camp Ashley persona.

Camp Ashley is a great person. She’s fun and outgoing and always happy to drop everything to help a guest. But despite her fantastic qualities, she’s not really me. She has energy reserves that I do not, patience that I struggle to muster, and is much less selfish than normal me. And she appears to be an extrovert, which above all is something I struggle more and more to maintain.

The cracks have appeared and keeping up Camp Ashley has gotten difficult to the point of painful.

While I know there’s always a certain degree of new personality with a position, I realized that I wanted to find one that’s a bit closer to the real me. Or at least that doesn’t need to be in place so constantly. The camp deserves that, too.

It’s time.

Now, I find myself looking toward the next big thing. After what was a rather short search in the grand scheme of things, I’m getting ready to move to Denver. This time, I’ll be working for the federal government as an interdisciplinary engineer. I'll admit to being skeptical when the position first crossed my radar, but now I'm intrigued, excited, and unwilling to let the opportunity pass me by.

This, too, is a job that refuses to be ignored.

I've missed engineering. So very, very much. I can't wait to dive headfirst back into it and surround myself with facts, figures, calculations, and even occasionally thermodynamics. Many of you will also not be surprised to hear how excited I am about Denver; some of my closest friends live there and it's where I've wanted to land since college. As much as I will miss being close to family here in Rapid, I need to take this opportunity to see and do a bit more ... with the added bonus of still being within range of Rapid for weekend trips.

I will miss the camp, desperately at times, and I will miss many of the people that turn up for retreats and camp and just an afternoon to hike. And wow, will I miss my former summer staffers and their occasional drop-ins.

There are things I won't miss, too, but most of them involve vomit. We'll leave it at that.

I'm relieved to see that I'm leaving a camp that is supported by hundreds of fantastic people and only continues to get better with time. I have no doubt that trend will continue.

So, as always -- we've got this. Don't let me down, folks.

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